TR Monitor

All at once: the SBK case…

- ZEYNEP GURCANLI

began in the state of Utah. Jacob and THE STORY

Isaiah Kingston, two brothers and members of the Mormon religious sect, establishe­d a renewable energy company, Washakie, in 2006.

The U.S. Federal government has an incentive program for those generating energy from waste. The incentive, worth around USD 2 per gallon, is provided to those who produce fuel from waste.

The Kingston applied to this incentive. However, they did not only receive an incentive for fuels they produced but also for fuels they didn’t produce. To do this, they transporte­d the fuel they produced first on trucks, pretending to take waste from other cities and produce fuel. But it was always the same fuel that circled around and came back. Nonetheles­s, they received millions of dollars of incentives from the U.S. Treasury.

Then, Levon Termedzyhy­an, a mafia-like businessma­n of Armenian origin, entered the stage from California. The ruse to swindle the U.S. government grew with the energy company Noil, owned by Termedzyhy­an. The fuel was then not only cycled around in the U.S., but also sent to Panama and India and brought back. In this way, the Kingston brothers and Termedzyha­n swindled the U.S. Treasury of USD 511m.

HOW WAS THE MONEY BE LAUNDERED?

It was a substantia­l amount, but the black money had to be laundered. Sezgin Baran Korkmaz (SBK) came into play at this stage. The money started to be ‘laundered’ by acquiring failed companies in Turkey through Korkmaz. The business was so profitable that the swindlers fell in love with Turkey. Termedzyhy­an even acquired Turkish citizenshi­p through the investment program and changed his name to Lev Aslan Dermen.

SBK and Dermen establishe­d joint companies in Turkey, Luxembourg and the U.S. They started to acquire real estate - hotels (including the famous Paramount Hotel), mansions, apartments, yachts - in Turkey with the black money they ‘earned’ through Washakie, owned by the Kingston brothers.

SBK, who has never hidden that he came from poverty, and occasional­ly took pride in this, set up a ‘journalist network’ so that he wouldn’t be investigat­ed over how he found so much money in such a short time ( journalist­s are included by name in the 127-page indictment of the case opened by Bora Jet’s former owner Yalcin Ayasli against SBK in the U.S. in 2019). SBK, who also paid a bribe to government officials and members of the judiciary, started to acquire companies in difficult situations, sometimes with using the judicial stick and sometimes with direct threats and blackmail by using the corrupted judicial system to benefit himself. (The mafialike methods pursued by SBK is included in the same indictment in detail. It also includes a witness saying ‘there is no judiciary in Turkey anymore and everything relies on money ’).

THE U.S. CHASES MONEY

Things started to become complicate­d for SBK and his gang when the U.S. uncovered the swindle and chased its money. First, a case was opened against the Kingston brothers and Termedzyhy­an. Dermen/Termedzyhy­an then faced trial alone after the Kingston brothers confessed and gave evidence (against Zarrab, for instance) during the lawsuit process. (It’s necessary to note here the detail that Azerbaijan­i-born Mubariz Mansimov is - interestin­gly - one of business partners of Dermen/Termedzyhy­an. Mansimov, whose name has come up often recently, particular­ly in videos of the criminal organizati­on leader Sedat Peker).

‘CLAIMANT: THE U.S.; DEFENDANT: SBK’

There is a rule in the American judiciary: people aren’t tried in absentia. If there is a suspicion/ evidence about them, the office of the attorney general prepares a sealed indictment, and this indictment is announced to the public after the suspect is captured. (The same method was implemente­d in the Zarrab case).

SBK, one of heroes of this swindle ‘adventure’, was arrested in Austria on the request of the U.S., where he came after he escaped from Turkey. As soon as he was arrested, the seal on the indictment against him was removed. SBK is accused of ‘money laundering ’ and ‘obstructio­n of justice’ according to the indictment. The claimant is ‘the U.S.’ in the indictment written by the Utah Attorney General’s •ffice.

SBK WAS MENTIONED IN ‘MUELLER INVESTIGAT­ION’

SBK’s place in the U.S. judicial system is not just limited to the case of Yalcin Ayasli dating back to 2019 and the case of ‘the U.S. versus SBK’ on which the seal was removed last week.

SBK was also mentioned in the investigat­ion conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller during the U.S. presidenti­al term of Donald Trump. It’s necessary to take a look at that investigat­ion to understand the ‘links’ of SBK:The ‘leading actor’ in the Mueller Investigat­ion’s Turkey section is Michael Flynn.

Flynn, who is a retired general, was part of the ‘key team’ during Trump’s presidenti­al campaign. Eventually, Trump appointed him as a ‘national security advisor’ as soon as he was elected. However, Flynn remained in the office only two months and resigned due to allegation­s of misconduct swirling around him.

Investigat­ions about his conduct turned out to be fruitful after his resignatio­n. In the ‘Turkey file’, there was an agreement by Flynn’s lobby company to undertake lobbying activities on behalf of the Turkish government against FET• leader Gulen living in the U.S. The agreement wasn’t directly made with the Turkish government but with a businessma­n named Ekim Alptekin. Flynn committed an offence when he didn’t officially notify the U.S. that he would be lobbying on behalf of a foreign entity. In fact, he confessed during his trial that the Turkish government paid bulk of his payment with Alptekin acting as intermedia­ry. Ultimately, Flynn was parnoned by Trump.

SBK was mentioned in the investigat­ion in the context of a lunch Korkmaz had with the former CIA Director James Woolsey, who attempted to step in so that ‘the deal is made with him’ when that lobby agreement was made with Flynn. Woolsey and his wife, as well as SBK and Alptekin, were at the lunch. Interestin­g links, indeed.Who is ‘Dede’? This is the informatio­n coming out of the U.S. indictment so far. The shocking informatio­n (such as the Zarrab file) will apparently emerge when the case starts.

Who knows? Maybe, during the lawsuit process we can learn the identity of the top-level official nicknamed ‘dede’ (grandfathe­r) in the indictment in which SBK settled his affairs by paying a bribe in Turkey…

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